On this special episode I have a series of short conversations with front-line sales leaders about the power and value of effective sales coaching. First up, I’m joined by Brynne Tillman, the CEO of Social Sales Link. Then I speak with be Carole Mahoney, the founder and Chief Sales Coach at Unbound Growth. Finally, I’ll wrap things up with Shari Levitin, the CEO of Levitin Group.
My guests today are all on the panel of judges for 2020’s Top Sales Coach Competition, brought to you by ringDNA and this podcast. To enter for your chance to be recognized as the World’s Top Sales Coach and win $1,000 go to topcoach.ring.com.
Andy Paul: Hi friends. Welcome to the Sales Enablement Podcast. I’m your host, Andy Paul. Now on this special episode of Sales Enablement, I’m having a series of short conversations with top sales leaders and leading voices on sales, performance improvement about the power and value of effective sales coaching. And in particular effective call coaching. Using recordings of phone and video calls to help sellers learn the skills and acumen they need to drive more productive and valuable sales interactions with their buyers.
Now, my guests today are all members of the panel of judges for the Top Sales Coach competition. That’s being brought to you right now by ringDNA and this podcast Sales Enablement with Andy Paul. Now, this is where coaches around the world are submitting videos of themselves.
Coaching a recorded sales call and has been judged by you the public as well as by panel of judges. So to enter your chance to be recognized as the top sales coach, go to topcoach.ringdna.com
All right, on today’s show you’ll hear from Brynne Tillman, Carole Mahoney and Shari Levitin.
First up, I’ll be joined by Brent Tillman. She’s the CEO of Social Sales Link.
Following that, you’ll hear my conversation with Carole Mahoney. Carole is the founder and chief sales coach of UnboundGrowth.
And then last today I’ll be talking to my friend Sharri Levitin. She is CEO of The Levitin group and author of the book, Heart and Sell: 10 Universal Truths Every Sales Person Needs to Know. A
ll right, let’s jump into it.
Brynne. So thank you so much for participating as a judge in our Top Call Coach competition.
Brynne Tillman: Oh, Andy. I am so excited to participate. This is so much fun. And I can’t wait to learn about all of the participants.
Andy Paul: Yeah. Yeah. We’re so excited about it. So in your mind, what are the elements of a well coached sales call?
Brynne Tillman: Uh, so, you know, I think the first thing from the coach’s perspective, whether they’re a manager or sales manager or a real sales coach, like an external person helping out is they have to come from a place of, they’re not an advisor, which is different, right. They’re a guide someone to help them solve their own challenges.
And I think that’s really important because we can Google and get answers all over the place. But when a good coach can bring out the answer from the participant, it’s so much more impactful and successful in my mind.
Andy Paul: I agree. But I think that’s absolutely right is you’re not there to give people answers. You’re there to help them learn how to come up with the answers.
Brynne Tillman: Definitely. Yeah. You have to understand the challenges and the goals of the participant. Hmm. So, you know, very early on, they have, you know, they have to, you know, the success of this engagement, even if you’re the sales manager, it’s still an engagement with them, right. The success of this engagement needs to be defined. So at the end of this, maybe six months from now, or three weeks from now, what would success look like and what would you the participant be happy with as a result.
Andy Paul: Meaning that they need to do some self assessment beforehand.
Brynne Tillman: So their self assessment, I think the first thing is where do we want to land? And then self assessment is what are the gaps that are going to get in the way of us landing. Right, right. So there’s a, certainly, here’s our goal. Here’s where I think I’ll thrive in this. And here’s where I think, uh, I might stumble in the roadblocks. Maybe it’s my organizational skills. Maybe it’s um, I hate to pick up the phone. I don’t know, right quick what what’s in the way of hitting that goal and really pulling out. Um, you know, what do we need to hit that goal? What are you, what do you know you’ll be great at? And where are the challenges? And then we’ve got to talk through those challenges.
Andy Paul: And so it seems like too, from your perspective, that that is really important, that, that the call be a good mix of positive reinforcement as well as constructive feedback.
Brynne Tillman: Absolutely. And if we can get into the account ability side, which is very different than the planning side, right. As a coach. So when we’re, we’re starting from scratch, you know, we set the expectations, um what we expect from the participant and the responsibility of the coach. Um, we, we understand, we start to learn each other’s communication styles. And as a coach, you know, very early on, even before we set the KPIs, right? What are we going to monitor on the the accountability side? It’s, you know, learning what will motivate. Uh, I’m going to call them a participant, whatever that might be. So, you know, what will motivate them? What shuts them down. Right. So I have a style, I have a coach myself, and he knows like, if he goes in one direction, he’s done, I’m crossing my arms and I’m not listening, but if goes in another direction. I lean in. It’s different from his other coachees.
Andy Paul: Yeah.
Brynne Tillman: So I think there’s a, a really understanding a good coach will understand what will motivate, um, coachee, not just, um, what do they need to learn, but how will they learn it?
How will they absorb it and consume it and, and leverage it to be successful. Once all of that foundation is there. So we know our goal, we know the gaps or what we need to work on or focus on, which by the way, could change over time. Many times we find or identify gaps and then we recognize that really isn’t a gap. It took two seconds to figure out how to fix it. And there are many other gaps we didn’t even know beginning.
So those will come up and a good coach can pivot. Right. Can recognize that in pivot. Um, but then we say, all right, how are we going to measure the success of this program now that we know what success looks like? What are the KPIs? And then, um, what’s the structure of the call? You know, are we going to start with, did you do your homework? What did that look like?
Andy Paul: Do you recommend people have a template?
Brynne Tillman: Um, for some people. As a coach, I have a pretty systematic, you know, here are the things that we said you were going to do. Did you do them? What, what did you struggle with? What suggestions did you have? Right. So I always start there, but when, as a coachee and when I’m being coached, like I’m in a different role where it’s, you know, the CEO of a business and sales, like it’s a lot of different moving parts. I don’t want a template. I want to come because I am. I happened to be pretty self aware of where my shortfalls are. I can see them easily and I can come into a call and say, okay, I need to work on this piece.
Andy Paul: Right.
Brynne Tillman: Um, maybe it’s a leadership piece. Maybe it is a sales piece. Um, but it’s, I’m pretty good at showing up knowing what I need to work on. Um, but other people may need to show up with more structure. So I think that’s also part of the goal of the coaching engagement.
Andy Paul: I love it. Alright. Well, Brynne, well as I said, we’re so excited to have you participate in as a judge in the top sales coach contest and yeah. Look forward to seeing all the entries we get.
Brynne Tillman: Oh, me too. This is going to be so much fun.
Andy Paul: Carole Mahoney. You know. I’m so excited that you’re joining us as a judge on our top sales coach call coaching contest. I was trying to think of all the C’s that go in there, but, um, yeah, I’m excited. You’re joining us.
Carole Mahoney: Oh, thank you for having me. I was thrilled to be asked. It’s a personal passion of mine. I cannot wait to hear what we come up with.
Andy Paul: Yeah, well, yeah, hopefully we’ll have, uh, many, many, many entries from, uh, frontline managers, coaches around the country. Uh, it’s some great prizes as well. Not the least of which is a guest appearance on Sales Enablement with Andy Paul. So everything else pales by comparison, right? Exactly. Right. So maybe the thousand bucks or whatever. Okay. So in your mind, what are the, what are the core elements of a great, uh, coaching session?
Carole Mahoney: So for me, the single greatest element of a coaching session is when the coachee has an aha. Like that’s why this always happens to me. Or they have some type of self-awareness aha, where they’re able to take that and apply it in a way that applies to a lot of other things.
But it’s something that it’s like the light bulb that goes off in their head. That moment is the moment that I coach for.
Andy Paul: Yeah. And that’s not a moment of telling someone, as you said, it’s really a moment of discovery. So it was like, as a coach, you have to sort of lead people to understanding how do you, how do you do that?
Carole Mahoney: I think it requires a ton of patients. First of all, it is sometimes when I’m coaching managers, I say, imagine that you’re sitting on your hands and you’re not allowed to raise it or tell them. And like I also do as sellers, whatever you feel that you need to end, whatever you’re going to say in a period, find a way to ask it as a question.
Andy Paul: Yeah, a hundred percent on that. That’s that’s one of my big things is anytime you have chance to make a statement phrases, the questions that it
Carole Mahoney: absolutely. Um, you know, I was actually just on a coaching call with a manager just prior to here. And we had this exact same scenario where I already was reviewing her coaching call. And for about 10 minutes of that 20 minute coaching call, it was her telling him what to do, what to say, what question to ask. And she said, well, I don’t know how to turn it into a question. And I said, well, What have you just put what at the beginning and a question mark at the end. Why is it so simple?
Andy Paul: What about right? That’s what I, what about,
Carole Mahoney: Or what if, or could it be, any of those work.
Andy Paul: Yeah. And, and I think another key is, is, is so in the case of a coaching calls is asking them, so what do you think would happen if, and, and let you know. People have to think about it. They have to visualize what would happen. And that’s what you want. You want people thinking?
Carole Mahoney: Yup. One of my other favorite techniques in coaching, and this is one of the things that I look for in coaches that I coach is when you’re, especially when you’re listening to a call, it’s very easy to say, well, you should have done this here, or why didn’t you do this here? But one of my favorite techniques is to take some of the pressure off the person being coached is that actually listened to how the buyer reacted to something. What do you think made the buyer react this way or their tone change or where they were suddenly sharing so much information with you and then they started to become closed up.
So if you can focus. The seller on the reactions the buyer is having to their questions in their statements, it becomes a little bit easier for them to start to see what might I do differently to get a different result in reaction. Versus, well, I don’t know what I should do next. What questions should I ask? YouTell me. And it’s just a different perspective.
Andy Paul: Yeah. Well, I mean, I love that. I mean, cause instead of saying, you know, have you thought about doing X, Y, Z, yes. Say, well, so how did, how did the customer react to that? What do you think the customer is thinking?
Carole Mahoney: Exactly. It’s a way to build empathy, right? It’s one of the biggest complaints that buyers have about sellers is that they don’t understand my world.
They can’t empathize with what I’m going through. And I think the more that we start coaching our sellers to be in tune with the tone and perspective, and what’s going on with the buyers, then it’s going to be much easier to coach them, to make the changes that they need to make. But there’s also a lot of other things that go into that.
Andy Paul: True. But, um, but I, I think I’m a huge believer that a, a good coaching. Session resembles a good sales call. In terms of the questions that a coach should ask in terms of discovery questions, understanding where someone is, little self assessment, understanding what they think the problem is that they’re experiencing. What they think the solution might possibly be, what the value would be to them if they were able to solve it. I mean, those. Yeah, those are questions. You ask a customer.
Carole Mahoney: Yeah. What options are they considering? What does the future look like? Or what do they want it to look like? Uh it’s you know, oftentimes what I see the mistake that I see managers make in coaching their sellers, either with call reviews or otherwise is they focus on the deal. Not the development of the rep. They can’t lose the deal. And so then, because they can’t let them lose the deal, they slip into telling them what they need to do, because they can’t wait for them to figure it out because this deal needs to close. Meanwhile, they complain that their sellers are always coming to them for the answers, the question that they should be thinking for them.
So, so it’s like this catch-22, they’re creating for themselves. So definitely asked, don’t tell, focus on the buyer. And when I’m looking at coaching calls, like you said, it does resemble a seller’s call because I’m looking at talk time. Are they telling them and rescuing the rep. I look for tone, are they able to control their emotions and not try to stuff things down their throat? So to speak? I look for questions versus periods. I look for how well are they able to gain commitment and get help their sellers to get confident, even by role play and practice, whatever it is-they discovered. I think that’s one of the things I find missing from so many coaching calls is you can ask them the questions to lead them down the path.
But are they able to actually execute it? Coaching should be about helping them to practice and fine tune and not, these are all of the questions that you need to ask in the call. Here’s three questions that are crucial for you to ask him the first 10 minutes let’s nail those. And then we’re going to move on to the next part.
So you’re focusing on micro process, practicing it, letting them get comfortable and confident because they’re practicing with you, not their prospects. So it’s a less of a high stakes situation. And the more they can practice with you, the better they’re going to get in the actual conversations. I think of that is proactive coaching. Whereas if you listen to their calls, it’s a great way, but it’s also reacting to what’s already happened. Let’s get in front of it.
Andy Paul: Yeah. One and one point I want to ask about, uh, cause you brought up just earlier in this sort of last, last question is yeah, sometimes coaches, maybe it’s not a question it’s a statement, sometimes coaches have to let people lose and the coaches have to understand they’re not there to rescue everyone. Some of the ways people learn oftentimes is by not winning and that’s okay.
Carole Mahoney: Exactly. Which is all the more reason to have them practice before they go into the situations. Um, and it’s absolutely critical to be able to let your reps fail. If you don’t, you rob them, them the opportunity to learn and grow. And you’re going to find yourself on that hamster wheel where you’re always going to be rescuing them because they never learned to swim.
Andy Paul: Yeah. Exactly. Okay. We, we, we mixed a lot of good metaphors there. Um, Carole, I’m so excited that you’re joining us. Uh, we’ve got an incredible panel of judges that are gonna help us with this and yeah look forward to your help choosing top sales coach.
Carole Mahoney: I cannot wait. We’re in great company. That’s a great panel. I can’t wait to see the submissions that come in. I am going to be asking all of my clients and everyone I knopw to send in submissions. This is such a great opportunity for a manager to learn
Andy Paul: Sharri. I’m so excited. You’re gonna be joining us as a coach on our top sales coach contest.
Shari Levitin: Yep. Me too, Andy. Thanks for including me.
Andy Paul: Well, yeah, no, it’s your top of the list to invite. So yeah, in your mind is what are the, what’s a well coached call look like. I mean, from a coach’s perspective, what are the things they have to make sure they’re doing to make sure that it’s effective for the person receiving the coaching as well as for the outcome they want achieve?
Shari Levitin: Well, you know, it starts before the call really. And, um, I always say that everybody says, Oh, we have to lead with empathy. What does that really mean? But you’ve gotta have, you know, it’s sort of a buzz phrase right now. Right. But-
Andy Paul: Especially in the last six months. Yeah.
Shari Levitin: Yeah. The actual coaching call, you’ve got to have the relationship. Right. I always say what happens in the coaching process is duplicated in the sales process, right?
So it all starts with this relationship. So do we have trust and how do I cultivate trust. And again, it’s not that different than with a client, but I cultivate trust because I’ve had what I call it, sort of a, get to know you coaching call. So when that rep comes to me as a new manager, I’m going to spend an hour, an hour and a half and get to know that seller as a human. I’m gonna find out. What’s important? What makes your life worth living? Why are you here? And no, don’t tell me it’s the money. What, what are you going to do with the money? How’s it going to make your life better? How do you like to be coached? How do you like to be managed? So big surprise before the coaching call, I have to earn trust and that means I have to really, and again, like a client has sort of a pre-call plan, I need to ask some, get to know you questions, and I need to really listen as that coach. I need to develop trust in a relationship and I need to find out why they want to achieve their goals before I can show them how to achieve.
Andy Paul: So just to summarize that, cause I think it’s such a great point is that if you’re going to have an effective coaching call there’s pre-work to be done. And that pre-work is just, as you would have you said with a client is you have to earn the right to ask certain questions through trust, as well as earn the right to receive the authentic answers.
Shari Levitin: And I would spend some time on those questions and, you know, have them being part of your process. I love the Tim Ferriss question where he says, “If you had a billboard that you could show to the whole world, what would it say?”
Wait question to find out who somebody is at their core. Right. I might ask them, um, you know, but, but you want to think through these questions and use the same questions with all new reps and again, really listen, and then you’ve earned the right to now have that coaching call.
Andy Paul: Okay. That’s a great answer. Great answer. So. Yeah, when you’re actually doing the call itself, the coaching call itself is, is you’ve built your trust. Then how do you serve to navigate then between this mix of constructive feedback and positive reinforcement in order to maintain that relationship?
Shari Levitin: I want to kind of divided into three areas. Number one, um, no coach can coach a game unless they know what they’re coaching. And this sounds simple, Andy, but I used to have a mentor who said it’s simple, but if you’re not doing it”s advanced. So that said, you gotta have a score card. I need to know and you need to know what am I being coached on? So I always start with, and when we work with our clients, we’ll create a scorecard and whatever methodology they’re using, whether they’re using our methodology or someone else’s, they need to know what to expect.
So I might have a scorecard, um, that starts out, um, You know, once I listened to a call, uh, you know, did they have a good demeanor, did they have of our pre-call plan? Did they, um, build a relationship before they did the demo? So I need to have some kind of a scorecard. So we have a meeting of the minds on what we’re scoring each other on. So that’s number one.
So now that I have a score hard- And because ultimately we want that seller to be able to self assess which process, right. We don’t want to always have to be there for them. You don’t want to have to call the plumber every time you want it turn on the water and we need to emancipate ultimately.
So number one, we have to have a scorecard. I would say number two, what we want to do is once we’ve listened to that call and have the scorecard. I always have the rep fill out the scorecard first and have them tell me how they think they did.
And the reason that is, first of all, again, we’re teaching them to self-assess. Ultimately we want to empower them. So I always have them start out- And you’ll be surprised because I find that, you know, sometimes they know exactly where they got it right wrong. And sometimes they’re harder on themselves. Now, you know, you’ll also find they have no idea and self-assess, but it lets, you know. Again, you’re starting with discovery, so a have them fill it out first and tell you how they think they did.
Second after they do that, I am going to think about three things that they could improve on and only three. I have seen so many coaches, well, let me tell you the 26 things you did wrong, buddy. Like Holy Crunch. Now, you know, now I’m in a complete dizzy, right?
Andy Paul: Well, yeah. The first thing that the seller hears when the coach says, yeah, I’ve got 10 things for you to think about.
It’s like the first reaction is, yeah, I suck. Right?
Shari Levitin: Well, it’s like skiing, right? I live in park city, Utah, and, and, you know, I remember what I was learning to ski. It’s like you can’t focus on 16 things do improve, you know, so they’re going to say just lean forward and put your hands out in front. Okay. That I can do. And then everything else starts to fall into place. So, um, so I only ever want to think about three things to improve on, but before I do that, Andy, so what I’m going to do is I’m first going to tell them what they did. Right. So after they tell me how they think they did. I am going to compliment them.
And even if there’s nothing to compliment them on, I am going to find something they did right. Because I also know that look, they’re nervous. There’boss is there. Right. And they are so scared. They’re a complete mess up and they’re nervous. And so I want to put them in their happy part of their brain.
I don’t want them in the fight or flight part of the brain. And I’m going to say, wow, you know, um, Tanya, you did an amazing job of involving the customer in your demo. You also, I saw you were so prepared. You looked great on camera. We’re all selling virtually right now. So I’m going to make sure that I find three or four things that Tanya did really well. In fact, there’s a Harvard business review article that says we need to compliment people when giving feedback, you ready for this ratio?
Andy Paul: Sure.
Shari Levitin: Six to one. I got to tell you six things you do right before I tell you one thing you did wrong. Now I am not good at that is my sixth was and will tell you that’s exactly what
Andy Paul: I was not the household I was raised.
Shari Levitin: No, no. He’ll be like, stop telling me to clear the dishes you owe me 45, but, but even if it’s. Three to one, even if I start it and, and I tell him coaches all the time, think of three things they did well and make them specific, make them authentic. So now they’ve told you how they thought they did. So they’ve talked, you know, reduces the fear. Now I’m also gonna, cause I need them open to that feedback. Right. So then I’m going to tell them three things they did. Right? And then I’m going to give them no more than three things that they need to focus on. And after I’ve done that, I need to not just be the doctor who diagnosis the problem. I’ve got to have a prescription. I got to, I got to tell them what medicine to take. Hey, watch five of Andy Paul’s videos and, you know, take two Alka-Seltzer and I’ll see you in the morning
Andy Paul: That conjunction. I’m not sure it’s the one I want out there, but yeah, go ahead.
Shari Levitin: So I’ve got to do that and again, I just see these pitfalls all the time, and a lot of times, um, coaches don’t have any place for them to go. So they diagnose, Oh, you need to do that better. You need to do that better. But obviously what you need to be able to do is then have a plan of what you’re going to give them. So, um, and I like it to be very specific. So, you know, watch these three videos, read this chapter, and then here’s another key then report back to me what you’ve learned.
Because otherwise, yeah, it becomes a very passive, Oh yeah, I did that. Yeah. It was great. What did you learn and what are you going to do with it? And I will tell you if they don’t do their homework, I’m not giving them my valuable time as a coach. And I would say, well, as soon as you’ve done that, then we can meet again. So those are the things that stick out in my mind just based on what I’ve seen people not do right. And what really moves the needle is, is those few things.
Andy Paul: Well, that’s perfect. And it fits just in the amount of time we have. So Shari again. So looking forward to having you participate as a judge in our contest, and as always a pleasure to talk with you,
You too. It’s going to be fun!
Okay friends, that’s it for this episode. First of all, I want to thank you for taking the time. Listen, I’m so grateful for your support of the show, and I want to thank my guests, Brynne Tillman, Carole Mahoney, and Shari Levitin for sharing their wisdom with us today. As reminder, if you want to know, or the top sales coach competition, go to topcoach.Ringdna.com for all the details about how to enter. And also then thank you so much for investing your time with me today until next time. I’m your host, Andy Paul. Good selling everyone. .